Talk:Nero Wolfe

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One Seventh of a Ton[edit]

Just out of curiosity, does anyone else find this sum inadequate by today's standards? Rex Stout, by his pictures, was fairly skinny. The entire American population was smaller back in the mid-20th century. Philip Marlowe and other heroes were in the 180 lb range, and this was considered somewhat formidable. I realize this is not a chat room, but it just seems like a discrepancy in the overall gestalt of the series. Needless to say I am a fan... Guernseykid 04:46, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

When I was a kid, more than half a century ago, I was fascinated by the question of Wolfe's weight. 286 didn't seem grotesquely fat to me, but it sure seemed adequately fat. Particularly for a guy who was probably about 5'10". You gotta remember that people in the 1930s-1950s who weighed 285 weren't necessarily built like today's NFL linebackers on steroids and weight training. Today there are probably lotsa football players who are 5'10 and 285 and who *aren't* fat. But in Wolfe's day, that was fat. Or so I still believe. It all depends on how we're built and how we train. Pancho Gonzales and Arthur Ashe, the great tennis players, were probably around 6'1 and anywhere from 160 to 185 lbs, depending on when you weighed them. They were *strong*, powerful guys, but slim. Add 100 lbs to them and it would be *flab* -- they would be *fat*, like Wolfe. So I think that for his day and age, weighing in at "a seventh of ton", makes Wolfe a genuine fatty.... Hayford Peirce 05:27, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Thanks! Guernseykid 11:08, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Archie was 5'10" or 5'11" and he says in "The Black Mountain" that Wolfe is three inches shorter. On a 5'8" frame, 286 pounds is pretty fat. Wastrel Way (talk) 20:57, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Mycroft Wolfe?[edit]

Don't know if Stout took inspiration from Doyle, but he could have: Holmes quips, if it were possible to be a detective without leaving his club, Mycroft could be the greatest detective in all England. Can anybody verify & include? Trekphiler 17:49, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

The only way that we could know what was in Stout's mind would be if he wrote or spoke his thoughts. However, it seems very probable that M. Holmes's characteristics were some kind of influence on the character of N. Wolfe.Lestrade (talk) 23:36, 13 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

Second Best known?[edit]

"Nero Wolfe is probably the second best-known consulting detective after Sherlock Holmes" What about Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot? Or Sam Spade from the Maltese Falcon? I suppose it is a matter of opinion/personal experience, but a statement like that is difficult to qualify. I'm gonna make that statement less specific. Great Green Arkelseizure 05:01, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Consulting Detective?[edit]

Wolfe is a private detective, not a consulting detective. The first sentence reads as if if Sherlock Holmes might be an American.

I agree on both points. The editor above you was trying to clartify this, but it seems more confusing now than before. Kafziel 05:41, 4 February 2006 (UTC)


Lately, I have been creating plot summaries of Wolfe novels: very brief descriptions on the Nero Wolfe page, and more extensive descriptions in individual articles. I'm unlcear whether people would favour brief descriptions, just enough to whet their appetite to read the book, or a more extensive summary. Also, the Wolfe books are of uneven quality, and so maybe others want to help ... Modus Vivendi 12:01, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I think they might be useful, depending on how they're written. I would definitely avoid the gushy "One of Wolfe's finest efforts, Archie is in danger as never before!" blurb-type fan-talk. Anything else would probably be interesting. And it's not as if Wiki doesn't have enough space for it. Go for it! Hayford Peirce 18:10, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
See Nero Wolfe novels category and the Nero Wolfe category. Modus Vivendi 20:32, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I see. I thought you meant those 1-line summaries that follow a couple of the items listed in *this* article, not the others. The other summaries look pretty good to me. Keep it up! Hayford Peirce 22:39, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Small changes[edit]

Just changed "Serbia-Montenegrin army" to "Montenegrin army". Montenegro was an independent kingdom at the time, forcebly annexed by its own ally, Serbia, after WWI. There was no such thing as "Serbian-Montenegrin" army in that particular period in history. Nor would Wolfie like to hear that: in "Fer-de-Lance" and "Over My Dead Body", Wolfie makes bitter allegories against the serbian dynasty ( Karadjordjevic dynasty ), which destroyed an allied nation.


I removed the reference to Wolfe being an "aristologist". In "Poison à la Carté", he is invited to dinner by the group "Ten For Aristology", but is not a member (and is unaware of the group's current status a few years later in "The Doorbell Rang"). Wolfe's dictionary apparently defined "aristology" solely as "the science of dining", and he called the group "witlings", since dining was an art. Even with a definition of "art or science", presumably Wolfe would still have disliked the term! David Oberst 00:24, 4 May 2006 (UTC)


I just stumbled onto this article, and I'm struck both by the erudition of its contributors and by the small errors that are sprinkled throughout. (BTW, I absolutely agree with contributors who have objected to the overblown blurb-speak that has been used here and there. It's jarring as hell.)

One difficulty posed by a series as long-lived as the Wolfe corpus is the presence of inconsistencies in the original source. Cramer's first name, for example, is given as Fergus early on but there's the problem of LTC in The Silent Speaker (Bantam page 4), and he's called "Lionel" in TV credits. (According to McAleer, Stout attributed that particular inconsistency to "laziness.") So I think that some extra care is needed in editing existing contributions. For example, one contributor, according to a History comment, apparently struck out a reference to Horstmann's status as a live-in employee. I think that an early book suggests that Horstmann sleeps elsewhere, but the majority of the books that refer to the matter at all have him sleeping in a small room attached to the greenhouse. (I've restored the "live-in.")

Even within a particular book there are inconsistencies; page 59 of the Bantam edition of And Be A Villain gives Nancylee Shepherd "light yellow hair and gray eyes" but by page 81 she has "lots of medium-brown hair . . . and blue eyes."

So let's try not to be quite so cavalier in our edits -- it's easy to be misled when the source material stretches over so many pages and so many years.

And greater care is needed with very specific references, because specific errors jump out at the reader. For example, in the reference discussion of Wolfe's weight, I saw it mentioned that he lost "about 50 pounds" during his metamorphosis into Roeder in In The Best Families. But on page 149 of my Bantam edition, shortly after Archie recognizes Roeder, Wolfe says "I've lost a hundred and seventeen pounds." AFAIK, this is the only reference to the amount of weight that Wolfe lost, but it's certainly possible that Stout cited it elsewhere as 50 pounds. (I changed "about 50" to "117".) Xlmvp 15:33, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


>>(no, dinner is at 7:15, not 6:00 -- that's just when Wolfe comes down from the plant room) Thank you, Hayford. I searched for that reference and simply couldn't find it. 6:00 didn't feel right, but I couldn't find it even in the Nero Wolfe Cookbook's commentary. Xlmvp 23:28, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Strange, it must be mentioned in about every book -- but, of course, that doesn't necessarily make it easy to find when you want to.... Hayford Peirce 23:34, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I've changed the eating hours a little, based on both my memories and Baring-Gould's book. Hayford Peirce 22:49, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
In an early novel, I believe speaking to Andrew Hibbard in The League of Frightened Men but am not certain, Wolfe tells a guest who is going to be resident in the brownstone for awhile that "lunch is at one o'clock and dinner at eight." Those times changed in later stories, as noted in your food section I expanded today as well as in another portion of the article.
At a Wolfe Pack meeting once, we were asked to come up with a list of questions that could not be answered from the books. One of the favorites was "Where does Theodore eat?" Newyorkbrad 06:38, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
In The Rubber Band, speaking to Clara Fox, Wolfe says: Should your stay be prolonged, it may be that you can join us in the dining-room for meals; eating from a tray is an atrocious insult both to the food and the feeder; and in that case luncheon is punctually at one and dinner at eight. — Lacreighton (talk) 17:33, 29 June 2015 (UTC)


Someone has badly screwed up the "Wolfe's attitude towards women" section. He/she did a rewrite of what was there a month or so ago, and has really loused it up. In fact, it makes no sense. I am feeling grouchy these days about dumb Wiki edits and don't feel like taking the time to repair it myself, but it would be nice if someone in a calmer state of mind would do so. Hayford Peirce 23:34, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Yellow PJs[edit]

Yes, Wolfe definitely wears yellow PJs. I was about to add "silk" to the description when I sudden began to wonder if it were his sheets that were yellow silk. Or are both his PJs and his sheets yellow silk? Hayford Peirce 22:35, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm, on at least one occasion it was black sheets on his bed. Hayford Peirce 22:49, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's a long time after it was brought up, but Wolfe generally wears canary yellow shirts, and I belive PJs as well, and the sheest are black. IMHO (talk) 21:14, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Bibliography - book summaries and individual articles[edit]

Hi there. I've been busily creating an individual article for each of the Rex Stout NW titles that hasn't had one up until now. I'm about 18 titles shy of finishing this endeavor, and then I'll link the unlinked titles in this bibliography to those individual articles, for further development. Each article has a consistent (I hope) structure, including an infobox that describes the first edition and provides the ISBN, and there's room for an image of the first-edition jacket; I found one on The Black Mountain page, and that got me going.

In creating the article, I've either copied the text (The League of Frightened Men, for example) from this bibliography, or come up with something on my own, as a point of departure for anyone who cares to jump in.

Once all the articles are created and linked from here, it's a matter of deciding whether to continue with the brief summaries on this page, or whether the bibliography should revert to a simple chronological list that links to the individual articles. I'm of two minds, because some of these brief summaries (Some Buried Caesar) are different and decidedly pithy. Not all of the titles have a summary, though, and the article is getting rather long; but being new here I'm not sure whether that's a big deal or not. I hesitate to whack anything of any substance here without checking with those of you who have contributed so much here already. Please ponder and comment if you like. WFinch 15:55, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I think it's a fine project that you have underway. But why don't we wait until you've finished with all the individual titles before we worry about where all the info should go. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to have the same info (more or less) in two related articles. So keep up the good work! Hayford Peirce 03:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm interested in this subproject as well. If you want to "assign" me a few books/stories to write up, I'll be glad to help out. Newyorkbrad 03:36, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, and it's good to hear from you both. I'll keep plugging away and finish with the separate titles (only 18 to go!), and we'll see what's what after that. Once all of the individual pages are in position it'll be easier to whittle here and add there to balance things out. I agree, it's nice to see a small summary next to the title -- I get these stories mixed up, to tell the truth, and can use something to jog my memory. And it was very good to see that section "Wolfe's home" added today -- that's an important one. So, onward.WFinch 00:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Longer-term plans[edit]

We seem to have three editors (including myself) committed to working on this and related articles. What do you think of the idea of working on this until we reach the standard for a main-paged featured article? Newyorkbrad 03:37, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I got involved in this. Thanks for the welcome to Wikipedia a few weeks back, too.WFinch 00:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

So, are you going for Featured Article status? You should![edit]

I've been busy elsewhere and only now realized how much better the page has become since 1st December 2006. A big thank you and kudos to everyone who has been a part of this improvement.

Special thanks go to ImmortalWombat for what he humbly called "tidying", but which really was a radical re-organizing and changed a top-heavy, hard-to-read pile of "infostuff" into an easy-to-navigate article. Belated thanks for the 12 Dec 2006 version (how does one link to the old versions internally?), and for all the good work since.

--Ronja Addams-Moring 19:52, 17 June 2007 (UTC)


I wanted to note here that I believe a section on orchids would be a valuable addition to the article — something parallel to the section on food, Wolfe's other passion. I'm completely out of my depth when it comes to those plants. — WFinch 19:26, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Vanilla comes from an orchid, and it seems reasonable that Wolfe would have grown them, even if he didn't fertilize them, but I don't think they're ever mentioned. Does anybody else remember them being mentioned? JDZeff (talk) 19:43, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Accuracy, cont'd[edit]

Usually, I'm very reluctant to alter the substance of what someone places in an article. But in the case of the sketch of Poison a la Carte on the main Wolfe page, I have to do so. I've edited it, and the version I edited is reproduced here:

"Wolfe reluctantly agrees to let Fritz prepare the annual dinner for the Ten for Aristology — 'a group of ten men pursuing the ideal of perfection in food and drink' — at the home of millionaire orchid fancier Lewis Hewitt. He and Archie are guests at the table where one of the ten becomes acutely ill during the meal and soon dies of arsenic poisoning. Wolfe resolves to clear any suspicion that Fritz is responsible by discovering which of the actresses serving the meal is the guilty party."

Well, the dinner here did not occur at Hewitt's house — the contributor confused this dinner with one that took place in The Doorbell Rang, one that Wolfe and Archie didn't attend.

Wolfe is not reluctant to allow Fritz's participation, at least not before the fact — of course, Wolfe regrets the entire affair after Pyle is poisoned. Of Wolfe's reaction to the invitation, Stout writes, "In fact, Wolfe was pleased, though of course he wouldn't say so." And it is not a question of "letting" Fritz prepare the annual dinner: ". . . and Wolfe had given him [Hewitt] permission to ask Fritz to cook the dinner." It is clear that the decision is Fritz's: "There was a little hitch when Fritz refused to commit himself until he had seen the Schriver kitchen . . . "

Nor is there any suspicion voiced that Fritz was somehow responsible for what happens to Mr. Pyle. Wolfe describes the reason for his rancor as follows: "You had injured and humiliated not only me but also one of my most valued friends, Fritz Brenner . . . " And earlier, Cramer has said, "I might as well leave Fritz out of it."

Obviously, this is small stuff — even picayune. But if someone is going to submit this material for consideration as a featured article, I think we'd better get our fiction straight. Even apart from such an august forum, Wolfe fans are so informed that occasional, small errors make them doubt the accuracy of the entire article and its sub pages. (I'm surprised that someone could take the care to quote perfectly the story's definition of "aristologist" and yet make the errors I've cited.)

BTW, I see no point in simply repeating summaries that are on the main page in a sub page, as was done with "Poison a la Carte." It's just annoying to follow a link to a book or novella and find nothing new. TurnerHodges 17:07, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Hello. I'm going to take this opportunity to thank you for the excellent summaries you've added to this article, and the revisions you've made. When I started editing here, only a few of the Nero Wolfe books had summaries at all, and not many of those — just enough to be annoying — linked to a full article. Somebody had made a good start, though, and that's all it takes.
So, over the past few months I've been creating an article for each of the Nero Wolfe books, including the publication data, a scan of the first-edition cover. and whatever else I have at my fingertips. If there had been a book summary here, I've duplicated that on the book article as a point of departure. If there was no summary (or I thought I could improve upon it), I've written one. I've been working on this framework, but it's still mighty bare. I hope you remain annoyed at the repetition and keep doing what you're doing — there are miles to go. (Prepare to be annoyed by the article for Homicide Trinity pretty soon — you gave me the building blocks for that article yesterday.)
And as for accuracy, I think nitpicking is a big part of the fun when it comes to Nero Wolfe. Good going. See you around, WFinch 19:55, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree that we want these articles to be perfect in all detail. Mr. Wolfe would expect no less of us. TurnerHodges, for your first few days here, satisfactory. Newyorkbrad 00:03, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

WFinch and Newyorkbrad -- Thank you for your comments. In re-reading what I wrote, I see that it comes across as moderately ad hominem, which was not intended but for which I apologize, and therefore thank you again, for your forbearance. I've visited this article several times in the past and when I was last here, a few months ago, the main page was unwieldy, top-heavy (as someone else said) and just not fun to read. It badly needed structure and someone has seen to that. Newyorkbrad, I've seen your sig several times, and WFinch, yours too on this discussion. I don't know who has done what revising, and I don't propose to wade through months of edit history to find out, but a kudos to the editor or editors who took it in hand. And another to the contributors who provided much of the detail: the information itself is great fun, and it's clear that its contributors regard this as a labor of love -- but the thing seems to have grown like Topsy and gotten out of hand.

The idea of starting the article with an illustration is excellent, and the one from Bitter End is certainly vivid (but when did Wolfe ever answer the front door?). I sat back and howled at the Stan Hunt cartoon -- never seen it before. (I bought a copy of the Cookbook in a used book store a few years back and actually tried to use it.) The notion of quotes, in text boxes, from the books is also a nice touch.

So I hope I've fleshed out my attitude toward what's going on here a little more fully, and I'd like to join you and others in taking foundation that was here and making it better. I wish I knew something about orchids. TurnerHodges 02:05, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Mr. Wolfe might have answered the door in "Bitter End" when Archie was out on the case, because Fritz was in bed with the grippe. Newyorkbrad 02:23, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Poor Fritz — yes, the grippe. You two have made me look it up, which reminded me how much I like "Bitter End": "When the door opened Wolfe, himself, stood there. ... I faced Wolfe, and observed that he was sustaining his reputation for being impervious to startlement." I don't think there's a more dramatic illustration of Wolfe — Carl Mueller, one of the many unsung (and even uncredited) illustrators.
I came across the Stan Hunt cartoon in the issue of The American Magazine that contains "Door to Death." I was flabbergasted — I don't know of any other. I don't think anyone had discovered it before, and it's gratifying to have it make such an impact.
There was a Nero Wolfe cartoon strip, of course...
Like Topsy, you say? No kidding. Again, I can't thank you enough for pitching in, TurnerHodges. I was so pleased to see your summaries for the Zecks, for Gambit -- well, all of them are excellent and much appreciated.
Once they're all in place it may be time to consider splitting the list of stories and summaries into a separate article that could be linked from the Nero Wolfe article and from the Rex Stout page, as well. Earlier today I updated the relevant portions of the bibliography on Mr. Stout's article so they'd match. When I edit this article I sometimes notice an advisory about its length — and we still haven't found anyone to go near the plant rooms. There must be beautiful orchid photos ready and waiting on the Wikipedia Commons...
I'll stop for now. — WFinch 23:49, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

In response to User:Hayford Peirce's reversion[edit]

I deleted this line:

With 32 fluid ounces per quart, this means he was contemplating reducing his consumption from 16 bottles per day to approximately 13.

Because it is an unnecessary conversion. Why add a vague "approximately 13" when the precise figure given in the book is sufficient? This also looks like original research -- does the book identify how large the bottles are?

I removed the wikilink from the "A Nero Wolfe Mystery (A&E Network)" section header because the manual of style discourages links within headers; it is sufficient for that article to be linked in the section's first paragraph.

I deleted the list of quotes because a) there is no cited, third-party explanation for why they are listed -- WP:ILIKEIT is not policy for including material; it is non-npov for editors to list their favorite or, in their mind, most interesting Nero Wolfe quotes. Such lists are essentially original research since editors, rather than published reliable sources, are asserting particular material's notability. It also opens up the justification for everyone to add their favorite quote. Maybe I should insert my favorite scene from Gambit, when Wolfe tears up the new dictionary? And maybe editor X should insert that bit from Some Buried Caesar when he's standing in the middle of the field looking at the bull. What's the rationale/justification/cut-off for including quotes? b) Wikipedia is not a site for people to amass their favorite -- or even most interesting -- quotes; the Wikiquote sister project is the site for that.

Each of my "arbitrary edits" used the edit summary. Perhaps my justification wasn't clear, but "arbitrary" is not an apt term to describe them. Additionally, there is plenty of material that has sat for "many months" that can use refining. Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia; it is dynamic, and there are multiple areas of improvement and tweaking. I believe that's what I did (and have restored); if you disagree with any of the rationale I've given, please respond. --EEMeltonIV 21:18, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for explaining why you've removed my Wikilink from the section header for A Nero Wolfe Mystery. I seem to spend a lot of time playing catch-up with the manual of style — I'll remember your point.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Nero Wolfe
I tried including the Wikiquote template in the External links section of Nero Wolfe, but (as you can see) its presence here automatically links to a non-existent Nero Wolfe article. A Wikiquote article exists for Rex Stout, with only a smattering of quotes present — all of them seeming to be quotes from the Nero Wolfe stories.
The Nero Wolfe aphorisms could go into Mr. Stout's Wikiquote article — although it would be preferable to have the eye-catching Wikiquote box visible in the Nero Wolfe article. Can the Wikiquote template have an alias? Can fictional characters have Wikiquote articles? Could you assist, EEMeltonIV? — WFinch 00:34, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I've created a Wikiquote article for Nero Wolfe, and moved the content that had been deleted here. There's a lot of potential at Wikiquote; sections could be created for Wolfe quotes on particular topics, Archie quotes, quotes about Saul and the other characters... It could be organized book by book, as well. Citations on the sources are requested. There's room for growth, there. The Wikiquote link appears on the main page, beside the other External links. The link right here works, too. — WFinch 17:07, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Edits to Staff section[edit]

I removed the parenthetical sentence about Orrie Cather — that was far too much information, I think (and the book title wasn't correct). I also changed "dislikes" to "mistrusts" because Orrie is liked. Actually, Orrie is trusted, as well. Editor, we need a rewrite.

Orrie's a problem. Feelings about him tend to change as the series progresses. My own sense is that Wolfe, Archie et al. are indifferent at best to Orrie personally, and find him a competent operative professionally. While Archie and Saul socialize over poker, and Wolfe and Saul can discuss literature and politics comfortably, Orrie never seems to be involved on such occasions. Wolfe, in Doxy, says of Orrie, "You must know I have no affection for him; he has frequently vexed me ... he has not the dignity ... nor the integrity ..." And Archie has become upset on occasion when, in Archie's absence, Orrie made too free with items on Archie's desk. But within the limits implied by those personal feelings, they seem to respect him professionally.
I do have a problem with calling Orrie "callow" and "conceited." Orrie's not callow, and if he's conceited about his looks, Archie seems to regard the conceit as self esteem. If anyone's conceited and callow, it's Johnny Keems -- viz. Black Orchids.TurnerHodges 02:28, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

There is another article, Nero Wolfe supporting characters, where detail about the, uh, supporting characters resides. I believe that the 'teers belong here if Theodore does — they're essential characters. When it comes to Dol Bonner, Johnny Keems, Bill Gore... Perhaps they can reside at the supporting characters article. Or do we need such an article at all? Should each character have an article, as Inspector Cramer and Lon Cohen do?

Please weigh in with your views. — WFinch 00:20, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

I think a separate article for each of the supporting cast is way overkill. And if Cramer and Cohen deserve their own articles, so does Saul (more than Lon, I think). Bill Gore, Johnny, Dol belong in a supporting characters article, if at all (I hope never again to read about how Dol's lashes cast a curling canopy over her caramel colored eyes, and if I had to write about it I'd, well, hurl.)
I think there's an argument for putting Saul, Fred and Orrie together in a separate article, with Saul getting star billing.TurnerHodges 02:28, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Maybe the way to proceed is to build on the Nero Wolfe supporting characters article — reel in Lon and Cramer, and the content of the other separate articles (Lily Rowan, Purley Stebbins, Arnold Zeck). All the characters other than Wolfe and Archie could be organized there. The character descriptions on the Nero Wolfe article could be trimmed to essentials; Theodore, for example, seems to be getting a disproportionate amount of virtual ink here.
Saul would be the headliner in that supporting characters article if I had my way; I was surprised, too, that he didn't have an article. But Dol Bonner definitely makes the list, too, and there's someone who'll have a whale of a lot of expertise in writing about her. I had removed Dol Bonner from the copy added July 2, a section called "The Operatives" in which her name and a short description followed new entries for Saul, Fred and Orrie. I renamed the section and pared it back to the three primary operatives.
I'll copy the bits and pieces of the various separate articles that are stragglers out there into the Nero Wolfe supporting characters article. Then we'll see how things shake out. — WFinch 02:33, 5 July 2007 (UTC)


That phrase used in Archie's section, " ... has become very knowledgeable about food, 'sandwiched,' as it were, between the experts Wolfe and Fritz," has grated on me since I first saw it some months ago. I have replaced it. Here's what Fowler says about that sort of construction: "Much misplaced ingenuity in finding forms of apology is shown by writers with a sense of their own superiority who wish to safeguard their dignity and yet be vivacious ... Among them are: in the vernacular, so to speak, as they say, in the jargon of today, or the use of deprecatory inverted commas. Such writers should make up their minds whether their reputation or their style is such as to allow of their dismounting from the high horse now and again without compromising themselves." TurnerHodges 21:54, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

I haven't been shy about rewriting or reworking anything that's here — I think it's expected. Much of what I've reworked dates back a year or more and invites revision. Just note in the edit summary that you've tightened the language, and that's enough to draw the attention of the previous editors (if they're still active here). Given what I've seen you edit so far, I'm sure they'll appreciate that their work is being improved. If not, well, they'll probably pop in here. — WFinch 18:04, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I see. I have seen some weighty explanations for edits, and the norm isn't especially clear. I suppose this entire section could just as well go away. Thanks for the tip.TurnerHodges 22:54, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

One seventh of a tome[edit]

The main Nero Wolfe page is getting out of hand again. I recommend putting the lengthy lists of radio episodes on a subpage. Not a solution, but a start. Thoughts? TurnerHodges 02:14, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Shall we just lose the lists for all but the CBC Radio series -- the only true adaptations, anyway -- and make reference to the OTR episodes and airdates being listed in the Townsend book? Since I broke my fingers entering it all in the first place, allow me. The article has the attention of the radio project, but I don't know if losing those titles and airdates altogether would be any great loss to them. Further thoughts? — WFinch 03:10, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I've reworked it; let's see if anyone notices. —WFinch 04:04, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Okay, but if you've left us with any way to get to those lists I can't find it. I won't revert it: I wouldn't want to revert a deletion of something to which I didn't contribute. Yes, just for grins let's see if anyone notices, but it'd be a shame to just lose the information, when a link to another page would work nicely. TurnerHodges 05:29, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I'll nose around some of the radio project pages, check out the style used, and consider a separate article (or two) for those older radio shows. I can restore the two episode lists then (and they'll always be in the history here). A separate article should also be created for the film "Meet Nero Wolfe," and then that section can be whittled a little here. It's nice to have a hobby, as I always say.
Back to longer term plans, I haven't looked around here much for examples of other long (and getting longer) articles and how they've been split into rational bits. No rush, it would seem. — WFinch 12:54, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

On Eccentricities[edit]

I see from the edit history that contributors require even more care in the topic of Wolfe's eccentricities than in other topics. So I'm powering up my flame deflectors by explaining the changes I made today:

  • I revised the Amis quote to dispense with the jarring square brackets.
  • I added some material clarifying the issue of the number and location of TV sets.
  • I requested a citation for the "last vestiges of barbarism" remark -- and on that topic, I recall that somewhere Wolfe and Saul (I believe) discuss at the dinner table whether music can have any intellectual content. Does anyone know the source?

"Blood Will Tell" Trio For Blunt Instruments, chapter 2, (Viking p. 182), "When I mentioned the title of the privately printed book he made a noise - he says all music is a vestige of barbarism..." (I think "vestige of barbarism" appeared in another story as well.)
The Saul and Wolfe music discussion is found in The Father Hunt, chapter 12, (Viking p. 134), "The next hour, at the lunch table, provided nourishment for both my stomach and brain. For the stomach, sweet-breads amandine in patty shells and cold green-corn pudding. For the brain, a debate on the question whether music, any music, has, or can have, any intellectual content. Wolfe said no and Saul said yes. I backed Saul because he weighs only about half as much as Wolfe, but I thought he made some very good points, which impressed me because one recent Thursday evening at his apartment he had been playing a piece by Debussy, I think it was, on the piano for Lon Cohen and me while we waited for the others to come for poker, and Lon had said something about the piece's intelletual force, and Saul had said no music could possibly have intellectual force. As the woman said to the parrot,it depends on who you're talking to." Amy Duncan 13:52, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Ah! That's very helpful. I've incorporated it. Thank you, Amy Duncan. TurnerHodges 15:26, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I deleted the reference to Carla Lovchen in the section on Wolfe's attitude toward women; at least as written, it was out of place there. And I added some material on Maryella Timms and Julie Jaquette as counterpoint to Wolfe's generalized animus for women. (Also, unlinked "misogyny" -- what's the point of linking it? I didn't unlink "femme fatale" but I don't believe it needs a link.)
  • I moved the reference to the gong to its own bulletpoint -- it doesn't belong with the misogyny discussion.
  • I removed the mention of Saul bringing information while Archie's in the dark, because it's out of place in the topic of Wolfe's trances.

TurnerHodges 16:03, 18 July 2007 (UTC)


User RRRRowcliff has changed the spelling of Rowcliffe to Rowcliff in a link found in the capsule description of The Rubber Band. I don't disagree with that -- AFAIK, the Rowcliff spelling occurs more frequently than the Rowcliffe spelling in Stout's works. Just to keep the record straight, though, I'm forced to report that we've been done in again by Mr. Stout's cavalier attitude toward consistency in name minutiae. He spells it Rowcliffe in The Silent Speaker, three or four pages into chapter 18. Either that, or Bantam has an erratum. TurnerHodges 01:44, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

"As Paul Panzer would have said, lovin' babe!" (Fer-de-Lance, Bantam edition, p. 112). It's not Bantam this time, though. For the record, Rowcliff ends with an E in chapter 18 (page 130) of the first edition of The Silent Speaker, and again on page 133. Maybe it was those Viking typesetters.
If Wikipedia adds another server, maybe we could create an article on Stout's inconsistencies. I've never noticed this one before. He's Rowcliff in the first edition of The Rubber Band — and that final E seems too fancy for that guy, anyway. — WFinch 02:26, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, he starts and finishes as Rowcliff and I'm pretty sure he stays that way in most of the stories in between. But uh-oh, although he volunteers his first name as "George" in Before Midnight, he's "J. M. Rowcliff" in Please Pass the Guilt. Shades of Orvald/Orville Cather, Fergus/L.T.C. Cramer and DA Mandelbaum/Mandel. :-)

I agree that a whole Wiki entry devoted to Stout's inconsistencies would be a stitch; OTOH, having them all listed in one place would spoil the fun for all of us who are into inconsistency-spotting. --RRRRowcliff 03:19, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Dumbing down[edit]

I see, from my vantage point at Citizendium, where knowledge and learning are actually appreciated, that the dumbing down of Nero Wolfe, and indeed, all of Wikipedia, continues apace. Soon it will all be suitable material for a second-grader to read, worthless for anyone older. Keep up the good work! Hayford Peirce 04:29, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Rowcliff(e), cont'd[edit]

I agree with RRRRowcliff that collecting the inconsistencies in one place would spoil the fun for most of us. But there's something intriguing about WFinch's thought, even if it was pure speculation. It's hard to enjoy the fun if you don't have access to a particular book where the other side of a contradiction occurs. And then there's the question of which inconsistencies are due to Stout's laziness (his own word, I believe, in discussing the Fergus/LTC conundrum) and which are due to those Norse typesetters -- I was surprised at one point to learn that Bua came not from Albania but Alabama. I wonder if there could be some kind of "teaser" article, alerting the reader to topics on which a contradiction exists, without revealing details about just what the contradiction is. TurnerHodges 17:49, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

BTW, the idea that Bua was an Alabaman comes from Plot It Yourself, chapter 17. In the same graf we read that "The Marley .38 with which I had short [sic] Bua was in a drawer of my desk." In case those typos are edition-specific, the one I'm looking at is the 4th Bantam printing, October 1981. TurnerHodges 16:57, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Nat Parker[edit]

I'm glad to see that NYB added material on Nat Parker to the associates section. He had gotten the shortest shrift possible. But, to quote Monk, here's the thing: Parker's an anomaly and an interesting one. Of the many lawyers that populate the stories, nearly all of them are utter jerks (making the books just that much more realistic, of course). There are a few counter-examples, like Dan Kalmus. But Parker is actually cool. He speaks French. Archie admires his taste in the selection of social companions. He neatly and concisely dissects Perry Helmar in PB. He knows to call in local counsel because the officials in the boonies won't appreciate a New York slicker. He plays bridge. In short, he's cool, and he deserves more than a couple of lines in a section shared with Del Bascom and Bill Gore.

But I don't know where he should go. The real difficulty is that there's a continuum of importance, rather than a dichotomy, among the irregularly appearing characters. Maybe the way to handle it is to give Brady, Gore, Bascom, Parker, et al. a line or two on the main page, as is presently the case, and a separate page on which they could each be described according to how fully Stout fleshed them out. Thoughts? TurnerHodges 00:15, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Literary significance[edit]

I note Accounting4Taste's additions to several book articles, placing brief quotes from a Barzun/Taylor book under a Literary Significance and Criticism heading, and I acknowledge the work that went into the additions. I do have a couple of comments:

-- I'm far from sure that, for example, "Wolfe does some thinking, and Archie is Archie" rises to the level implied by the section heading. The quotes have some interest, but principally because they force one once again to contemplate the fact that different readers can have wildly different opinions about a book.

-- In the Wolfe context, does Barzun have any special claim on the reader's attention? As a political and social critic, no doubt that his thoughts matter. But the Wolfe books are light entertainment, after all, and I really doubt if it's lit-crit just because Barzun wrote it. He does seem more interested in his own verbal frippery than in saying something substantive -- I see on the back cover of my copy of the Cookbook that he writes this: "The extracts from Nero and Archie are as indispensable to good cooking as those from coffee and vanilla. The book adds a new dementia [sic] to dining."

In short, I don't think that the Barzun/Taylor quotes have a place here, but I don't wish to arrogate the right to apply personal pov and delete willy-nilly something that others find valuable. I hope we can have some discussion on this. TurnerHodges 16:56, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, I'm not crazy about everything that Barzun and Taylor have to say -- I actively disagree with some of their opinions, and I've found errors in a couple of entries -- but it's very, very hard to find impartial third-party critical material that discusses specific works of detective fiction. I do suggest that it's important to have some kind of third-party criticism for works of detective fiction in general, because otherwise many entries for detective fiction writers and novels will become a kind of inbred love-fest with little objectivity and much flattery, or neutered entries with no way for the uninitiated student to determine what's important and what's not. Might I suggest that other editors make an effort to add other third-party critical material from other sources in order to balance out the opinions of Barzun and Taylor? As soon as I find my copy of "Rex Stout", I'm going to add more critical citations. And I'm not suggesting I'm right about this to such an extent that I'd freak out if someone edited me, but frankly I find it hard to come up with any reason not to have the opinion of a fairly well-known critical source ("Catalogue of Crime" went into a second edition -- someone must have been buying them), even though it's "light", when there are so few available. I will look forward to hearing the opinions of others on this topic. Accounting4Taste 20:26, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
And if someone were to fill up the "Literary Significance and Criticism" sections with the opinions of other well-known critics, I would delightedly go through and edit out my additions of Barzun and Taylor cites. Accounting4Taste 20:32, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I didn't intend to cause hard feelings and I hope I didn't -- heaven knows there are enough Wikipedia apparatchiks doing that and they don't need my help. I encountered a couple of the errors you mention (Barzun apparently thinks that OMDB made a married man of Wolfe, and the only in-law found in The Second Confession died long before Sperling first appeared in Wolfe's office) and of course one questions the legitimacy of criticism that can't get its subjects straight.
There is a fair amount of criticism accessible on the Web -- just this afternoon I found in The New Yorker's archives Edmund Wilson's article, the original source of the "interesting psychological idea" quote, as well as the famous "excelsior and bent nails" quote (both of them referring to LOFM). I'll take your suggestion and, when and if I run across other critiques, supply them in the Significance and Criticism sections.
It's been at least 25 years since I read McAleer's book, and I didn't read anything close to all of it. I do recall, I think, an anecdote about a Supreme Court justice (Brandeis? Holmes?) scrawling something complimentary in the margin of a Wolfe book. Was there other material cited as criticism? The only other thing I remember about that bio was the picture of the original Archie Goodwin. TurnerHodges 02:11, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
[Interjecting] — Outstanding memory — it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, a note he'd written in the margin of Fer-de-Lance. I just came across this reference, and added it to the Fer-de-Lance article. — WFinch 03:46, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
No hard feelings at all -- we're all here to make a better article, especially for my "favorite fatty", as it says somewhere in the corpus, and if Barzun and Taylor are inappropriate, I need to know before I do more typing! I didn't mean McAleer, I don't have a copy of that -- mine is a book-length study by a lesser academic light, and not in my hands at the moment. I would not offer opinion from Baring-Gould, since I regard his opinions as quite off-kilter (he offered elaborate justifications to rebut the idea that Wolfe and Archie are gay, which AFAIK no one had suggested, and drew some obsessive maps of the brownstone), but I would certainly welcome citations from The Wolfe Pack, if it is okay to add them. I don't own their printed annals so cannot cite those. "Detectionary" doesn't have much to offer on Stout/Wolfe; nor does "Bloody Murder". That's about the limit of my reference shelf on detective fiction, and "there's the rub" -- serious students have little upon which to draw to make good Wikipedia articles. Someone with a copy of McAleer may be able to offer large amounts of useful information and intelligent criticism, though, and I welcome that if someone can do the typing. Accounting4Taste 02:50, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Allow me to interject — I am so happy to see Edmund Wilson's "bent and rusty nails" crack about The Red Box moved out of the main body of the article and into its own section. And hold the phone, that New Yorker article was referring to LOFM? Tsk tsk.
It's a trifle ambiguous, actually. Here's the exact quote: "...whereas in Nero Wolfe—though “The League of Frightened Men” does make use of rather a clever psychological idea—the solution of the mystery was not usually either fanciful or unexpected. I finally felt that I was unpacking large crates by swallowing the excelsior in order to find at the bottom a few bent and rusty nails." So the esteemed Mr. Wilson, while clearly referring to LOFM as clever, leaves it to the reader to decide whether the nails crack referred to Wolfe generally or LOFM specifically. The URL:
TurnerHodges 18:31, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Ah, thanks for that link — it's online, how wonderful. The title of the article — "Why Do People Read Detective Stories?" — isn't so much a question as it is an expression of Wilson's exasperation with the whole genre. He's not too keen on Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett, either. He is writing about four Wolfe stories, actually: "Not Quite Dead Enough" and "Booby Trap," new 1944 releases that fell so far short that Wilson needed to back up to the first Nero Wolfe omnibus and factor inThe Red Box and The League of Frightened Men. It is a bit ambiguous, but we'll get it sorted out now, and I like the idea of that separate section all the more. I know where I can find a few sentences written by P.G. Wodehouse. — WFinch 14:34, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

The heading "Literary significance and reception (or criticism)" is pretty highfalutin, though — and that may be the whole issue right there. I'd push for using the simpler heading that's in the WikiProject Films template — "Reception" — instead of the longer section heading, which is used by the novels project. A section called "Reception" would invite a variety of critical opinions of varying lengths, from Jacques Barzun to Time magazine. (How to visually present the different critical views — with bullets or subheadings — well, a little trial and error and we'll see how they look.)
I don't have A Catalogue of Crime — should this be in the bibliography? — and I'm not otherwise familiar with Barzun, but I do have a copy of McAleer's biography handy and I see that name in the index a few times. Backing up to whether he has any special claim on Wolfe scholarship... Page 464: "Barzun's [1965] tribute to 'Rex Stout's cosmos' lifted Wolfe scholarship to a new pinnacle. ... The Wolfe saga had been given official recognition as literature, and American literature had a cult figure who shared full status with Holmes."
So Barzun is good. And I have a McAleer. — WFinch 03:13, 3 September 2007 (UTC)


Amy Duncan has provided the reference for the "Beer is slop" quote from Fred Durkin. (Thanks!) I can't believe I missed that: I've been searching for it and one of the places I looked carefully was 2nd Confession. Ah well -- it's a good thing I wasn't sent to look for the Stenophone cylinder. TurnerHodges 21:09, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

You're most welcome. The Zecks are my favorites. And thank you for turning my reference into a proper footnote. Amy Duncan 22:19, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Goldsborough Series[edit]

In Murder in E-Minor Wolfe explains to Archie why he is duty bound to see Maria. This comes about because of a picture that Archie slips into the Wolfe's mail of Wolfe, Marko, Milan and others as "freedom fighters" in Montenegro. Shouldn't this be added to the biography section, or are the Goldsborough novels concidered "non-canonical"?Hx823 (talk) 22:14, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Good question. I'm not sure there's a consensus on the Goldsborough books. If one were developing, I'd certainly come down on the side of "they're apocryphal" -- I was disappointed in the two I read, feeling that I had a mouthful of excelsior without even a bent nail to show for it. But I should have made allowances, knowing that they didn't come from Stout. I seem to recall that Stout was once asked what he would think of someone else taking the series over, and he didn't like the idea, saying something along the lines of "Not very nice. They should roll their own." TurnerHodges (talk) 04:28, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't know about all NW fans, but it's fair to say there's a consensus among those who have made their views known on the internet that the Goldsborough books are poor imitations of the original. Regardless of one's take on the quality of Goldsborough's efforts, and notwithstanding that they were authorized by Stout's heirs and have "Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe" printed on the covers, the simple fact is that they are Goldsborough's Nero Wolfe, not Rex Stout's; therefore, incorporating any background matter invented by Goldsborough would be worse than confusing -- same as it would be for the "sequel" to "Gone With the Wind."
Wolfe, Archie,, and even the Brownstone, were Stout's very personal creations. Your recollection about Stout's own views on the subject of others attempting to continue an author's series is correct, but Stout put it more strongly: “I don’t know whether vampirism or cannibalism is the better term for it" (quoted in the McAleer Biography, p.484). RRRRowcliff (talk) 06:13, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Speaking as a NW fan, and after having read each of the Goldsborough novels, I really have no problem with them, save of having an ex-wife show up with an axe to grind in two consecutive novels. I don't have my references with me at this second, but there were some critics that approved of the stories to the point of calling it "Genuine Stout". The only major change that I recall (admittedly it's been a while since I've read them) was the death of Orrie Cather by suicide after being revealed as a murderer. I have no problem coming down on the side of cannonicity (if that is even a word).Hx823 (talk) 22:38, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Orrie's suicide takes place at the end of A Family Affair, which Stout wrote. It's easy to see how one might mis-attribute the scene, because it was Stout's final novel. Many regard it as outside the Wolfe mainstream because the book's entire tone is darker than earlier books. My understanding is that Stout was disgusted by the Nixon administration's shenanigans, and that had a profound effect on the writing of A Family Affair.
"Canonicity" is a recognized, legitimate word, first appearing in the late 18th century. Of course, that does not mean that Stout's Wolfe would have sanctioned its use. TurnerHodges (talk) 23:00, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Considering the tizzy Wolfe went into over a dictionary saying "imply" and "infer" could be used interchangably, I don't doubt it! :D Hx823 (talk) 22:12, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
I was always told that "imply" means that the reasoning is deductive and "infer" means that it is inductive. Anyway, there were things in the Goldsborough books that did jar, such as having Wolfe go to see the suspects in Staten Island in Silver Spire. No, Wolfe would have sent Archie to bring them all to the brownstone. And where did the animous between Archie and Theodore come from? Jhobson1 (talk) 16:34, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Huh? To imply is to provide information indirectly ("Your presence implies that you have news") and to infer is to understand unstated information ("I infer from your presence that you have news"). —Tamfang (talk) 19:15, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

More on Eccentricities[edit]

In the Wolfe-and-women section I've reverted the revised quote from Death of a Doxy. The quote was correct: Wolfe insists upon using Julie Jaquette's real name, Amy Jackson. The revision, though, points up a matter brought up by Hayford Peirce some time back -- that this section needs work, and the name Julie Jaquette would be an important component. — WFinch (talk) 14:35, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, and RRR seems to have doubts about citing Amis. So do I, partly because the quote is unattributed (that might be my fault) and partly because I feel sure I've run across that "frenzy of negation" phrase in the corpus -- did Amis himself use it without attribution? TurnerHodges (talk) 03:49, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Spurious Importance[edit]

I was a little surprised to see that the user called Henry Merrivale has deleted some of the Unfamiliar Word sections from various Nero Wolfe novel pages.

I was not surprised at the decision to delete, in and of itself. Those sections are, I think, right on the cusp of what is objective information and what is point of view. On one hand, there's no disputing that the novels employ those words. And anyone who is more than passingly familiar with Rex Stout's work knows that the, well, unfamiliar word is every bit as much a part of the world he invented as are Wolfe's preference for yellow shirts, Archie's appreciation of women under thirty and Cramer's taste in cigars. As such, to recognize that the words are there is at least informative: we have all thought from time to time something such as "Atrabilious. Which book was that one in?"

On the other hand there is the question of what constitutes an unfamiliar word. Few would contend that rodomontade is part of the use-vocabulary of the reader whose first language is English or, for that matter, anyone who hasn't read Orlando Furioso. But some might argue that, say, "jugglery" is unfamiliar, although its meaning is obvious: you'd be hard put to find someone who has ever used it.

So it's by no means clear-cut whether or not a word is unfamiliar, and therefore some subjectivity is inevitable. Ceteris paribus, a subjective point of view should be avoided in Wikipedia entries, but ceteris are seldom paribus, and so p.o.v. should be balanced against the richness of the information. At the extremes, a deconstructionist might say that all of Wikipedika is p.o.v., involving as it does its contributors' assumptions and their subjective choices as to what to contribute.

I was not surprised, then, to see that someone had deleted sections whose value, if not indisputable, is surely defensible. But I was surprised to see that it was done in so unilateral and cavalier a manner, with nothing more than a muttered "spurious" by way of apologia. That, I believe, is far more p.o.v. than anything that found its way into the Unfamiliar Word sections. I also believe that it behooves someone who deploys those slash-and-burn tactics to explain himself, or at least point to a consensus that his actions are legitimate. TurnerHodges (talk) 22:11, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, I was surprised, bigtime, and very glad that you've called attention to this. I can't believe that anyone seriously familiar with the Nero Wolfe books would challenge the "unfamiliar words" that are a hallmark of the the title character -- Rex Stout put them into Wolfe's mouth for a reason. And, ditto, regarding the propriety of someone showing up out of nowhere to delete, without prior consultation, the section on "unfamiliar words" to which several people have contributed and which has been targeted for expansion.
I'm exercised enough to be posting this from a handheld (heaven help me, I have enough trouble on the regular variety). My computer got the dread Blue Screen while logging in last nite (hence, one IP -signed contribution) and again this morning, when I was about to respond to you on Kingsley Amis, which I'll just shorthand here: I have nothing against Amis,just against anyone being cited for facts in evidence in the corpus; I haven't read his works and know him chiefly as the author of the promo blurbs that Little/Brown/Scribners splashed on the front covers of their Brit hardback reprints in the 1990s, which suggests he is/was a big deal in the UK.(In case the tilde thingies don't work -- Rowcliff)RRRRowcliff (talk) 00:22, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, it's gratifying to know that my surprise is shared. And I admit to being, as you put it, exercised. Of course it's easy enough to undo the deletions, but I really prefer the course that Archie took with Faber in OMDB. (And BTW, I have nothing against Amis either -- as a teen I loved Lucky Jim but don't know the blurbs you cite -- and if he stays in the main article at all we should do better by him.) TurnerHodges (talk) 00:55, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Well hello there. It doesn't appear that POV is even the issue in today's deletion of "The unfamiliar word" sections in the first seven books of the corpus (which I plan to restore, since I see a consensus of those who have truly contributed to the articles). The issue is whether the section is of "spurious importance." Rex Stout's use of language is of paramount importance, and the words in this section are select examples of that use. The particular examples of words may be subjective, and anybody can quibble about those; but the section itself is not. It may not be a section that would be desirable in many of the fiction articles at Wikipedia, but it belongs in the articles about the Nero Wolfe books. (Parenthetically, noting in the edit summary that the deletion of an entire section is a "minor edit" is indeed POV.) — WFinch (talk) 01:15, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
No, you're right, POV is not the issue. I was trying to come up with a rational reason for an irrational edit, because otherwise I was going to start in on a really deranged response. Also, I am double-minded about the implicit POV. You and RRR have put the case much more clearly than I did, or would have. TurnerHodges (talk) 05:15, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
I also support the restoration of the segments. I haven't edited the NW articles much (a bit now and then) but I have recently breezed through as many of the Stout books as I could find still in print, and Wolfe's vocabulary is a regularly recurring feature in the give and take with Goodwin. --Bradeos Graphon Βραδέως Γράφων (talk) 02:41, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Welcome, Bradeos Graphon. If, as I infer, you are on your first tour of the Stout books, I envy you. But there is also much pleasure in re-reading them. TurnerHodges (talk) 05:15, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Yup, first time through. It was the A&E series, and Wikipedia's article mentioning that much of the dialogue was lifted unchanged, that made me interested. I managed to find about 30 books, pretty good! I'm reading Wodehouse now. Cheers, --Bradeos Graphon Βραδέως Γράφων (talk) 21:11, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
It was the incomprable (POV) A&E series that got me started on Nero Wolfe, too, and I'll be forever grateful to Micheal Jaffe, and Timothy Hutton and the entire cast and crew of that show for introducing me to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe. The unfamiliar words (POV) uttered by Nero Wolfe or by Archie Goodwin are part of the charm of the novels, and the inclusion of "The Unfamiliar Word" in the Wiki articles on the novels is certainly not out of place (POV). My thanks to all of you for bringing this up. I can't fault TurnerHodges thoughts of dealing with the problem the way Archie dealt with Faber in OMDB, since this has turned me into a volatile demirep (DLAD). Amy Duncan (talk) 00:24, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
I should probably explain myself better, for the benefit of anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with the entire Wolfe oeuvre. I didn't mean that I wanted to pop Henry Merrivale in the eye, and the last thing I'd want to do is contribute to the delinquency of a volatile demirep (at least, not here). I wanted to urge him to pick the book up off the floor, to restore the sections he deleted.
And if he refused, then I'd pop him in the eye. TurnerHodges (talk) 02:29, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Law enforcement contacts[edit]

I'm glad to see that WFinch is integrating material from the Supporting Characters page into the main Wolfe article. That effort is likely interwoven with the so-called "Police contacts" section of the main article, which has some serious problems, and this may be an opportunity to focus on it just a bit.

I think its heading should be "Law enforcement contacts" or something similar, because it includes district attorneys.
The material on Rowcliff provided by his quasi-namesake is of genuine interest, but its placement is awkward and the amount of detail is out of proportion; as I write this, Rowcliff gets over 11 times as many words as Cramer. Granted that there is much information of interest regarding subordinate characters to offer, putting it in their thumbnail descriptions is, I think, a case of wagging the dog. I wonder if we don't want to keep a separate page for that more extensive information -- integration with the main page notwithstanding.
Over-linking is a pet peeve of mine. I recognize the subjectivity involved in deciding when to link and when to leave things alone. I try to stick with the dictum that if linked information adds materially to the topic at hand, if only by way of background, context or even atmosphere, then a link may be desirable. And I don't think that information about the history of the New York State Police, the demographics of Westchester County and the fine distinctions among different sorts of district attorneys adds materially to the discussion of the Nero Wolfe character -- any more than does a link to femme fatale. And I propose that we dispense with them and be parsimonious about their future use.
I would like to make some very straightforward changes, such as deleting the gratuitous "(coerce)" and enforcing subject-verb agreement at the end of the first Rowcliff paragraph, but I'd rather defer them until I have the sense that the current participants are in agreement on more structural issues.

Your thoughts? TurnerHodges (talk) 17:06, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

The easy parts first: I agree that the "Police Contacts" heading should be something more inclusive, like "Law Enforcment Officials," and I'm definitely with you on over-linking.
But the Supporting Characters issue is an organizational nightmare, partly due to the nature of Wiki -- people contribute at will, so there's bound to be some lopsidedness -- and partly to the nature of the NW books, which have more recurring characters of some significance than any other series I can think of (the other series I looked at on Wiki offered no help for this reason).
Rowcliff and Parker may seem disproportionately long next to Cramer, but Cramer has a substantial page of his very own, as does Purley.
I don't have a ready solution. One possibility might be sticking to strictly one-line identifications of the supporting characters on the Main NE entry and putting a great big link that's impossible to miss on a separate Supporting Characters page. OTOH, some of these characters are so much of what make Nero Wolfe Nero Wolfe that we may lose the flavor if we shrink them on the Main entry.RRRRowcliff (talk) 19:35, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it's a thorny problem. To extend your thought regarding the one-liners, it might make sense to use them on the main NW page, and use the character's name in each one-liner as a link to his or her entry on a supporting characters page -- which could then accommodate more detail. However, that might violate Wiki policy as to headings that are themselves links. Grrrr. Thanks for your reply, and ideas, and let's see where other comments take us. TurnerHodges (talk) 20:22, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm not that crazy about contact as a noun, either, and I like "Law enforcement officials" as that heading. Allow me.
The overlinking is a another carryover from the Nero Wolfe supporting characters article. I lifted almost everything verbatim, which also explains a few problems with the copy. Perhaps we can work on the supporting characters' descriptions here, and move them later if we decide that's the way to go. I've always found the detail and length of Theodore's description to be out of proportion on the Nero Wolfe article, myself.
One thing I truly like about Wikipedia's interface is the "Contents" box that miraculously appears at the top of the page after X number of subheadings are entered. There doesn't seem to be any hard-and-fast rules about article length; so my thought had been that if the supporting characters information were kept organized, that index feature would make it easy to navigate past it at will. I like having seeing all the names together in one place, since they pop up within text so often. Maybe they can "shrink and link" later, once there's some balance. — WFinch (talk) 21:58, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm still thinking; and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the list on the NW article. I don't know if you've seen the articles on Arnold Zeck, Lily Rowan, Inspector Cramer, Lon Cohen and Purley Stebbins — I think that's all of them. Individually, those articles seem to be struggling (and Zeck was briefly tagged for deletion pending proof of notability); but the content from all of those could be incorporated into the Nero Wolfe supporting characters article. Individual characters could be visually identified in the same way Mr. Wolfe is here.
Here, we could list and briefly describe the supporting characters, keeping the same order, and head the section with that "Main article: Nero Wolfe supporting characters" template. That would work only if the individual articles went away, but maybe that'd be just fine. I'm glad the issue has come up (right, that remarkable find about Lt. Rowcliff started it) because making decisions about what information to include where wouldn't be easy. — WFinch (talk) 00:29, 25 February 2008 (UTC)
I've added content to the Nero Wolfe supporting characters article — retaining most of what was already there, moving the longer descriptions of Fritz and Theodore from this article, and adding content from the individual supporting characters' articles. TurnerHodges is right — there's a lot more room for development over there, and the copy needs editing. — WFinch (talk) 03:27, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
Sounds like a plan -- the Supporting Characters listed on the Main Page, which will link to the separate entry where they'll get their due. And Archie Goodwin has been elevated from "Staff" to "Narrator." Excellent! And yes, indeed, the copy needs editing. RRRRowcliff (talk) 04:32, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Dropping the Baum[edit]

I don't want to be a killjoy, I truly don't, but I'm not at all sure that we can legitimately claim that the Mandel of the later years is the same character as the Mandelbaum of the earlier years. I don't recall, for example, that Archie ever wrote, "Mandel started to grill me. He looked familiar, and then I realized he was the same person who had questioned Wolfe regarding his conversation with Leonard Ashe, only then he was called Mandelbaum." So even though it's overwhelmingly likely that Stout meant him to be the selfsame character, it is OR to say so . . . unless Stout told McAleer that was his intent, and in that case we could use a citation. (Same comments apply to the recent addition on the Supporting Characters page.) TurnerHodges (talk) 00:37, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Okay, I should have gotten the evidence before making the claim, though I do believe Stout intended Mandelbaum and Mandel to be the same character. I see it as akin to Fergus/L.T. Cramer and George/J.M. Rowcliff and Orvald/Orville Cather, though Stout was dealing with first names in those cases, not last names. I'll undo it for now and reinstate the information if I can find the evidence. Amy Duncan (talk) 01:53, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
If it helps in establishing the identity, Mandelbaum's first name is given as Irving in the very first sentence of The Next Witness. TurnerHodges (talk) 19:08, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
"The first hour or so I was entertained by an assistant DA named Mandel, who was not a stranger to me...." (Archie Goodwin, "Death of a Demon," Ch. 8)
Even if you still don't agree that Mandelbaum->Mandel is sufficiently conclusive, I hope you'll agree that of the listing options available to us -- one, both, or none -- Amy Duncan's original identification is the only reasonable way to handle it: Mandelbaum and Mandel each appear in several stories and therefore can't be ignored in the Nero Wolfe Supporting Characters entry; by the same token, there's no justification for arbitrarily choosing one over the other, as is currently the case; and, given the preponderance of evidence and the consensus that has long existed on the disappearing "baum," the Wiki entry would look ridiculous listing ADA Mandelbaum and ADA Mandel as two different characters.RRRRowcliff (talk) 15:38, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
Wait a minute, please! I started this thread, an act that I now bitterly regret, with a note that included the clause " . . . it's overwhelmingly likely that Stout meant him to be the selfsame character." I do agree that Mandel and Mandelbaum are the same guy, and always have, and there's obviously consensus on that -- especially, as RRR has noted, because Stout's track record with character names is bad enough to afford us the opportunity to create a concordance. I merely thought it possible that Stout had fessed up somewhere and that, if so, we should cite it. (And I suppose in the back of my mind was the thought that this is precisely the sort of issue that illustrates how ridiculous it is to take the OR taboo to extremes, as is done so earnestly in Wikipedia.) At any rate, I'm hardly the arbiter on this, but in the absence of a primary source, by all means let Amy Duncan's contribution be reinstated, perhaps even with a parenthetical "Coo-coo-ca-choo." Muttering "Lovin' babe" to myself, even though it's so corny, I remain, Yr. obd. svt., TurnerHodges (talk) 16:26, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
I believe you're right about the baum-less Mandel being the same person. I know you're right about Orvald/Orville (and also Orrin) Cather; to me he'll always be Orrie unless someone can show me otherwise. — WFinch (talk) 03:02, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course I too think Amy Duncan's right. I will give three cheers if evidence exists (and Amy Duncan did unearth the "beer is slop" quote), and shed three tears otherwise. TurnerHodges (talk) 05:06, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
You're technically correct, but OTOH, DA Mandelbaum in the early stories being shrunk to DA Mandel in the later ones seems obvious enough, especially in light of Stout's infamous record on names. And I'll never forgive you because now you've queered the song parody (to "Mrs. Robinson") I wrote some years for the NW groups, where Mandelbaum->Mandel was taken for granted. :-)
I doubt that there's textual proof or any help from McAleer, who was definitely not a Nero Wolfe nit-picker and rarely called Stout on inconsistencies and flubs; I can't imagine he'd catch or care about a minor recurring character like the DA in question. We're lucky to have gotten the story on Cramer's first name out of him -- and not so lucky with Orrie: McAleer seems oblivious to Orvald in "Spiders" v. Orville in "IDES," when he asks, "Is Orrie Cather's given name Orrin"?; Stout replies, "Probably." LOL, anybody know if there even is a textual reference to "Orrin" -- I don't have one.
We should probably add the alternate names for the characters, with citations as we come across them,to their descriptions on the NW Supporting Characters page.RRRRowcliff (talk) 16:38, 2 March 2008 (UTC)


This is a minor quibble, but I believe Fritz is Alsatian, not Swiss. This would also be consistent with him hunting in the Vosges. --- Charlie (Colorado) (talk) 01:18, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Fritz is most assuredly Swiss, by his own words. In The Red Box, Chapter 15, Archie to Fritz: "You ought to be ashamed. I guess all Frenchmen are sardonic." Fritz: "I am not a French! I'm a Swiss." And in Murder By The Book, Chapter 7, when Archie is planning his party, Fritz tells him, "If you need any help with all the ladies, Archie, for my age I am not to be ignored. A Swiss has a long usefulness." Amy Duncan (talk) 17:45, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Nero Wolfe Italian Series[edit]

I modified some wrong news. I've the whole series released in DVD which includes: 1) Veleno in Sartoria (from "The Red Box") in two episodes (1969); 2) Circuito Chiuso (from "If Death Ever Slept")in two episodes (1969); 3) Per la Fama di Cesare (from "Some Buried Caesar")in one episode (1969); 4) Il Pesce più Grosso (from "The Doorbell Rang") in two episodes (1969); 5) Un Incidente di Caccia (from "Where There's a Will") in two episodes (1969); 6) Il Patto dei Sei (from "The Rubber Band") in two episodes (1969); 7) La Casa degli Attori (from "Counterfeit for Murder") in two episodes (1970); 8) La Bella Bugiarda (from "Murder is Corny") in two episodes (1971); 9) Sfida al Cioccolato (from "Gambit") in two episodes (1971); 10) Salsicce Mezzanotte (from "Too Many Cooks") in one episode (1971). I could send DVD covers, but I technically don't know how. Max from Italy,EU —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:52, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Black Orchids and legal authorities' requirements[edit]

The Nero Wolfe article's section on his eccentricities notes that the rule about conducting business at the brownstone only is frequently broken. This can happen when a murder occurs while Wolfe -- and, thus, Archie -- is on a personal errand and the authorities require that they remain in the vicinity. The original list of stories in which this happens does not include "Black Orchids," and it should not. Whether the reference is to the collection or to its title story, there is no suggestion that Cramer & Co. require that Wolfe remain at the garden show or at Miss Huddleston's estate. The stories originally cited, such as "Too Many Detectives" and "Immune to Murder," do involve that requirement. Actually there are several stories in which Wolfe and Archie are present when a murder occurs, but Wolfe manages to go home or to stay there: "Fourth of July Picnic," for example, or "The Rodeo Murder." TurnerHodges (talk) 20:50, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Wheasel bomb dropped into section about "A Nero Wolfe Mystery"[edit]

This is such a great, and well written and organized article and then someone comes along and drops what looks like a bit of personal review into it. TurnerHodges has put a "fact" tag on the offending portion and I put a "Who?" tag since it was a wheasel-fest. How long do the wikipedia guidelines say we must wait before cleaing that up? Fish Man (talk) 14:52, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

See the Template:Fact article for more, but it says in part "Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons should be removed immediately. Do not tag it— remove it." It wasn't clear to me, at the time that I tagged it, that it was contentious, but Fish Man's contribution here is prima facie evidence that it is. So I'm removing it, and let Dunlough take issue with that. (The hell of it is, I thought Chaykin's portrayal was over the top.) TurnerHodges (talk) 01:21, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
I too, thought that Chaykin's portrayal sometimes got a little too loud and ruffled. When reading the stories, my mind's eye never imagined Wolfe allowing his voice to reach a shout, regardless how angry he was getting. However, that being said, when he would depict Wolf as shouting and getting a little ruffled, Chaykin's portrayal is not a totally invalid reading of the source material, it just isn't exactly mine. There were other times, however, that Chaykin's portrayal, was *perfect*. His use of the word "ptfui" was perfection. The scene in prisoner's base, where Wolf has been hauled down to police headquarters by Rowcliff was played as calm, controlled fury. Exactly as my mind's eye imagined it in the novel! In place of the "weasel words" that were added, if someone put a sentence, after the statement about the program getting generally positive reviews to the effect of: "However, some critics saw Chaykin's portrayal of Wolfe as somewhat too emotional.", or something like that, followed by a citation of at least one review, by a credible, known, reviewer, that supported it, that would be completely fine and encyclopedic. Fish Man (talk) 14:45, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
Funny, Chaykin's pfui was the one thing I remember disliking: an exaggeratedly literal spelling pronunciation of a non-verbal noise that Archie transcribed as pfui – like saying tisk! in place of a dental click. —Tamfang (talk) 17:54, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Dining three times a day[edit]

"He is both a gourmand and a gourmet, dining on generous helpings of Fritz's cuisine three times a day." I doubt it... Wolfe would weigh more than a seventh of a ton if he dined three times a day. I've changed it to "enjoying generous helpings". Bishonen | talk 22:56, 24 April 2009 (UTC).

This is not the best possible correction. All of the books clearly mentions that he eats three meals a day per his very regimented schedule. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:10, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Is "generous helpings" specified? We don't often witness the meals themselves. How about something like "never allowing business to interfere with regular meals"? — In "Eeny Meeny Murder Mo" Archie remarks (during a visit to the orchid room) that he weighs 270, exactly twice as much as Theodore. Standards have changed, as was noted in a previous discussion. —Tamfang (talk) 17:48, 4 May 2009 (UTC)
Some people use "dining" to refer specifically to dinner (the evening meal), others to eating any meal. Changing "dining on" to "consuming" in the original sentence would probably suffice to address Bishonen's concern. For what it's worth, I believe some of the precise mealtimes changed slightly over time. Newyorkbrad (talk) 17:50, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

brand names[edit]

I read once somewhere that Stout made a point of never using the names of real products. To what extent is this true? In In the Best Families, "I opened a desk drawer and got out the Grisson .38. My favorite Colt ... was gone forever." Grisson – like the Marleys and Drexels in "Death of a Demon" – is fictional, so far as I know, but of course Colt is real, and in Families Archie rides in a Chevvy [sic], an Olds and a Cadillac. —Tamfang (talk) 18:26, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes, Stout is apparently inconsistent in his use and avoidance of actual brand names. Archie mentions brands such as Rabson locks, Marley pistols, Heron and Wethersill automobiles -- all fictional. But elsewhere Stout mentions that Archie almost bought, on Wolfe's behalf, a Cadillac instead of a Heron, and in The Silent Speaker (chapter 24) Archie recounts what happens after he wears a purple shirt made by Sulka and given to him by Lily.
I seem to recall reading somewhere that there was a dust-up over Stout's use of Hi-Spot in And Be A Villain. Unfortunately I can't find the reference; maybe someone else knows what I'm talking about (it's not the lawyerly list of questions provided in ABAV's back matter). But Stout was using fake brand names well before 1949.
If Hi-Spot was real, I wouldn't be surprised that they raised a stink since it was poisoned Hi-Spot that was used for murder in that book. IMHO (talk) 21:24, 22 May 2009 (UTC)
What's amazing is that despite Stout's inconsistencies with character's names and attributes (e.g. Nancylee's hair color, Mandel(baum), etc.) he kept his fake brand names straight. The Marleys were always guns, the Wethersills -- despite their relative infrequency of appearance -- were always cars, Rabsons always locks, and so on. TurnerHodges (talk) 01:47, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

From the books I've read so far (about half the canon), it seems that Stout generally gives fake brands for the things that are prominently used in the stories and real brands for things that are more or less just encountered. For example: Archie drives Wolfe's Heron and Wethersill, but the more minor characters in each novel can be Chevy owners. Is this a fair characterization of the pattern? I know it can't be mentioned in the article without a citation, but I would be interested in the general opinion of other fans.--Khajidha (talk) 14:52, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

Floors and bedrooms[edit]

In a very few very early novels (see, e.g., The Rubber Band) Archie's bedroom is located on the second floor, as is Wolfe's. I do not have his move to the third floor pinned to a particular book, but as early as Not Quite Dead Enough (1944; see chapter 3) and thereafter Archie's bedroom is on the third floor, while Wolfe's remains on the second floor. Since Archie's is located one floor up from Wolfe's in roughly 80% of the books, and possibly more, it seems proper to locate it there in this article. TurnerHodges (talk) 04:27, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

In The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe, Ken Darby has Archie state, "I was bounced around a good bit." Darby places Archie's bedroom on the second floor from 1934 to 1950, and on the floor above from 1950 to 1975 — but with the consistency that is the endearing hallmark of Rex Stout. John Clayton finds reference to Archie's room being on the third floor as early as Where There's a Will (1940), on page 150 of an edition I don't have. His drawings put it there. I'll find a way to modify the flat statement about which floor Archie's room is on if you don't beat me to it. — WFinch (talk) 16:24, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
I'll defer to you. The earliest reference I found to Archie's bedroom on the 3rd floor is in Cordially Invited to Meet Death, 1942. So you found one 2 years earlier and have the honors. Now, I'd be really interested to know whether Stout moved him back down in a subsequent novel, as your reference to Darby suggests might have occurred. TurnerHodges (talk) 18:22, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
I've included your citation of NQDE, CITMD and others in a note I've added to the statement that Archie's room is on the third floor. I can't find another instance of its being on the second floor after Where There's a Will, chapter 6: "I kept on going, up two flights of stairs, to my own room." I regarded it best to leave the statement as you had it, and cite the first three novels as inconsistent. — WFinch (talk) 21:46, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Quotation style[edit]

The reason for using the "cquote" style for the cookbook quote and the quote of Barzun escapes me, particularly because other quotes use the "quotation" style. Can someone please tell me what I'm missing? (Regarding the styles, I mean.) TurnerHodges (talk) 02:47, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

The boxed quote appears directly under the section head. The "cquote" style is for quotes within subsections. See The Teers section of the supporting characters article (although there's no relevant quote for Fred there). That's the reason I've done it, to avoid boxes on top of boxes; but if you see a better way, sing out. — WFinch (talk) 03:03, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Nope, nothing better occurs to me. (Anyway, it's not a good idea for me to try to help out with visual design.) I didn't perceive the pattern. TurnerHodges (talk) 04:34, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

The one-way waterfall picture in Wolfe's office[edit]

I have a nagging feeling that sometimes this is a picture of George Washington instead of a waterfall, but the book I currently have has the waterfall. Does anyone else remember a painting of Washington? --Badger151 (talk) 21:23, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Good memory, and you're close. In Not Quite Dead Enough, chapter 5 (which I had to look up), Archie describes the picture as one of the Washington Monument. Interestingly, the panel/peephole plays no part in the plot. But it's located near a shelf where Archie spots a grenade that hadn't been there before. TurnerHodges (talk) 03:44, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Oops, I should have said ". . . in chapter 5 of Booby Trap, which is in Not Quite Dead Enough . . ." While I'm at it, I suppose it's worth mentioning that structures associated with George Washington get a lot of play on West 35th. In Fer-de-Lance, Archie mentions that he has a picture of Mount Vernon in his bedroom. Interestingly, the back matter of several Wolfe paperbacks includes a description by Stout of Wolfe's office, dated 9/15/1949, with this excerpt: "The only wall decorations are three pictures: a Manet, a copy of a Corregio, and a genuine Leonardo sketch." I'm pretty sure that none of those three gentlemen painted the Washington Monument, but either Manet or Corregio might have painted a waterfall. Archie never says, but perhaps it's the Reichenbach falls. TurnerHodges (talk) 18:46, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

First name basis[edit]

Over the years, according to WFinch's citations, Wolfe goes from addressing two men by their first names to ten. In 1938, in TMC, there were two. Sixteen years later, per the main article's references, there were ten. So it's not too much of a stretch to conclude that in 1942 Wolfe was still at two. Marko, of course. The second would then have been Joseph Martingale, no? TurnerHodges (talk) 18:03, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

"Archie. Put him out." Wastrel Way (talk) 21:25, 27 March 2011 (UTC)


I have added a paragraph in the Food section describing the relapse. As far as I know, the relapse makes its final appearance in The Red Box, but my collection of the books is incomplete. If anyone knows of subsequent books in which the relapse occurs as such, I'd appreciate a correction. (I'm speaking here of the true relapse -- not an episode, as in And Be a Villain, in which Wolfe simply turns the work over to Cramer to finish for him.) TurnerHodges (talk) 14:12, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

I'll try to check this during the week. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 15:24, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
The relapse paragraph has been trimmed today. The beginning words, "In the earliest books," have been removed. So has the last sentence — deleting citations of two novels in which the relapse appears. The deletion of the entire last sentence seems to have been made because of its conclusion, that the relapse disappears from the corpus after the early novels; the edit summary states that "It [the relapse] recurs a good deal later than that, well into the 1960s." Since I don't remember the relapse being mentioned beyond the earliest novels, I'd like to see the stories cited. And because I find the citations of the two novels valuable, I believe the paragraph should be restored to its previous version. The last sentence is written to leave open the possibility that stories beyond The Red Box use the relapse as a plot device. — WFinch (talk) 17:25, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree and I have reverted the graf in question. Perhaps the editor who trimmed the graf will cite relapses that occur in Wolfe novels that appear in the 1960s, or at any rate subsequent to The Red Box; then we could improve the article by mentioning them. Let's be clear, though: this is about a relapse, so named, and described as Stout did in Fer-de-Lance, not the simple disinclination to work that Wolfe displays well into the 1970s. TurnerHodges (talk) 19:18, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Archie and Goodwin[edit]

Yesterday a new editor to this article began changing its references to "Archie" to "Goodwin." I'm a stickler for parallel construction, the reason given in the edit summary, but I don't agree with it in this case. Nero Wolfe is Wolfe; Archie Goodwin is Archie. The character is consistently called Archie in the scholarship, articles and reviews I've seen, and several instances are quoted within this article. — WFinch (talk) 11:12, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with WFinch's comments. Parallel construction is often desirable but respecting the conventions of the series is more so. The three separate edits that encompass the change from "Archie" to "Goodwin" are clearly good faith and make some needed improvements, but I believe that they also introduce some unnecessary problems and in places appear to be personal preferences regarding diction. I list some of them here so as to invite further comment before further editing:
Link to Montenegro: Wikipedia Manual of Style specifically deprecates the linking of geographic locations, and the link does not add materially to the reader's understanding of the article's topic. I also believe that these links are distracting rather than illuminating:
corned beef
Romano cheese
The link to Sydney Greenstreet makes sense.
I'm not comfortable with linking oenophile but I suppose it can support a link. (I supplied it and linking it never crossed my mind, so I'm probably biased here.)
"Luxurious and comfortable" changed to "luxurious". The two are not synonymous. Some aspects of the brownstone such as the private elevator and the Persian carpets are luxurious. Others such as Wolfe's office chair are comfortable.
"Wolfe is frequently described by Archie Goodwin" has been changed to active voice, but the edit introduces the problem of the tense of "describe." Present (when the books exist) or past (when the narration was written)? I believe that present tense is preferred in this situation.
"This suggests that in the Nero Wolfe universe, Sherlock Holmes is a real person, not a fictional one." I don't object to the edit, which is an improvement, but it drew my attention to the sentence itself, which seems to me to be gratuitous, OR, and a dubious inference in any case.
A clumsy repetition involving "commentators" and "noted" has been introduced in the O-E theory section. I agree with the deletion of "curious."
"Many radio, television and film adaptations were made from his works" is limp. I don't find it helpful, although an internal link to the article's section on the adaptations would be reasonable.
The Darby footnote now contains edits that materially and improperly change the meaning. Stout did not "retain" inconsistencies, he included them (inadvertently so, we have always assumed). "Pleasures" are attributes of the act of reading, not of those doing the reading.
The final graf in the section on the brownstone is improved by breaking a run-on sentence in two, but not by substituting "thus" for "therefore" or "filmed" for "shown." Both "thus" and "therefore" can be synonymous with "accordingly," but it is the primary sense of "therefore" only. And "shown" is surely better than "filmed" unless the editor has special knowledge that film rather than videotape was employed.
"On weekdays, Fritz serves Wolfe his breakfast in his bedroom." This is an improvement but awkward. Drop the first "his" on the grounds that Fritz is unlikely to serve Wolfe anyone else's breakfast in his bedroom.
I see no advantage to enclosing Ten for Aristology in quotes. Nor in italicizing Le Quinze Maitres; I know, it's French, but the font suggests that it's a book title. I believe that pâté, despite the diacritics, is sufficiently Anglicized that it should take a normal font.
Changing "It appears that Wolfe knows his way around the kitchen" to "Wolfe appears to know his way around the kitchen" is jarring. The reader stumbles briefly over "Wolfe appears" which suggests that he shows up. TurnerHodges (talk) 16:36, 19 July 2010 (UTC)
Those links add plenty.
  • Montenegro. Most of the Origins section is about that. Its a pretty obscure country, but has a highly colorful history that bears plenty on Wolfe's history. First, that Wolfe was an agent of the Austrian government before WWI - the fact that he did so while being Montenegrin (a country bordering Austria-Hungary), means a great deal more than that he did so while being, say, Argentinian or French. When he was wandering around the Balkans as a spy, he wasn't doing so just as a dilettante, but quite possibly has specific political goals in mind. Also, after WWII, Montenegro was part of Yugoslavia, a fact that has great influence on several stories, most of all The Black Mountain of course, but also a number of others, quite a bit more than Archie's being from Ohio for example.
  • Orchids. Again, there's a whole section about this. The fact that these are frail, luxurious, and rather strange flowers, with their own "colorful" history, is best described in their own article. Wolfe doesn't care much for people, but nursemaids them.
  • FBI Without the link, it's not clear what the abbreviation stands for. Again, the colorful history of this organization bears strongly on a couple of stories. One book is specifically about it.
  • Corned beef ... OK, you can remove that one. :-). Not an important dish in the mythos. --GRuban (talk) 17:53, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with WFinch's comments. While the edits changing "Archie" to "Goodwin" are clearly good faith, and make for Parallel Construction, throughout the Nero Wolfe corpus, Nero Wolfe is always referred to as "Wolfe", and Archie Goodwin was almost always referred to as "Archie" (the exception to the latter being that most of the police called Archie "Goodwin", all other regular characters called him "Archie"). The exceptions to this were done to emphasize some point important to the plot of the particular story in which it was done. The basic character names created by Rex Stout were "Wolfe" and "Archie", not "Wolfe and Goodwin" or "Nero and Archie". It makes sense for this article to adhere to that convention. Fish Man (talk) 03:51, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

I have done what I can to change Goodwin back to Archie, where the recent changes were made. (Memo to that editor: Stay out of dark alleys.) I don't believe that I see enough consensus, or lack thereof, as yet regarding the other issues I raised, so I'll continue to wait on those a bit longer (but I doubt that I'll get any more guidance). TurnerHodges (talk) 04:38, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, TurnerHodges — and thank you, Fish Man. There are more than four dozen other Wolfe-related articles on Wikipedia and they're positively riddled with Archies, so it's good to have our reasoning on the record. And it's good to see "Archie" come back today.
Regarding the other changes made during those three Archie-to-Goodwin edits, I agree that many of them improved the article. I'll weigh in on a few that TurnerHodges questions, and toss in a couple:
  • Montenegro. The recent edit placed an internal link to the Montenegro article within the pull quote from "Fourth of July Picnic." The first sentence of the Origins section already has an internal link to Montenegro. I agree with GRuban that a link to the article is useful, but I think the second link added to the pull quote is redundant and not as well placed as the link in the Origins section.
  • Serbian. The internal link that was recently added is immediately followed by another link that provides real context to the article — and the word "Serbian" links to a disambiguation page.
  • Sydney Greenstreet. The internal link was added to a footnote, and Greenstreet's name is already linked from the Adaptations section. Maybe people would find it useful in the References section, as well, but I think it's a distraction.
  • Oenophile. That word supports a link, all right.
  • Other internal links, including orchid and FBI, are a bit broad but fine with me. (The FBI article is actually called "Federal Bureau of Investigation," so if the link is retained it should be edited to avoid a redirect.) The links to corned beef and Romano cheese, now — those are truly distractions.
  • The brownstone is comfortable.
  • The text in the Darby footnote should be restored, although the present edit did give me a good laugh.
  • "Many radio, television and film adaptations were made from his works" is indeed limp, and the previous version of the sentence was poorly placed; but I believe the information was added to the lead section to better summarize the content of the article in its introduction. This section does need help; the present placement of this sentence on adaptations now seems to credit the works to Wolfe, not Stout. (The link in the Contents box works beautifully for anyone wising to skip directly to the Adaptations section, so I wouldn't bother adding an internal link here.)
  • I agree about removing the quotation marks framing "Ten for Aristology," and see no advantage in placing the Bouchercon award nomination titles in quotes, either.
  • I contributed the information about the actual and model brownstone used in the A&E TV series, and "shown" is indeed the word I intended to use. (And I chose it even though I have special knowledge that it was filmed.)
So that's my two cents. Thanks again. — WFinch (talk) 17:11, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Brownstone address list[edit]

I've restored the original edit to the section on the various addresses given for the brownstone, information that I contributed. It was not meant to be a comprehensive list of all of the occurrences of addresses in the corpus; it was a list of the different addresses, with their first (and sometimes only) use, cited with chapter. Some addresses are given more than once in the corpus. I thought it notable that the most frequently given address is 918, which is the reason I added those additional occurrences to the footnote. — WFinch (talk) 14:56, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Wolfe's mother in Budapest[edit]

An anonymous editor added a graf, now removed, to the Origins section, stating that Fer-de-Lance contradicts the notion that Wolfe was born in Montenegro. The edit cites Archie's statement in FDL (chapter 13) that he sends a monthly remittance to Wolfe's mother in Budapest. The edit goes on to state that Wolfe was therefore either born in Hungary or his mother moved. Well, that's good scholarship, but in light of all subsequent books (with the noted exception of OMDB) in which the topic arises, Wolfe is identified as Montenegrin. Clearly, his mother moved -- after all, Budapest is only a few hundred kilometers from Montenegro. More seriously, FDL is regarded by most authorities as an anomaly in the Wolfe series: minor oddities are typical of the first entry in an ongoing series when the author is still learning about the characters' personalities, traits and backgrounds. Not surprising to find a reference there that is never repeated and that does not in fact contradict the usual take on Wolfe's birthplace. TurnerHodges (talk) 14:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

In _The Rubber Band_ Archie comments: I was thinking, the old lummox certainly fancies he's putting on a hot number, I suppose he'll send Miss Fox to board with his mother in Buda Pesth. So, this also places his mother there. Lacreighton (talk) 20:41, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

Link spam and Bookfinder information[edit]

I have reverted a good faith edit that removed content from the Adaptations section, in the subsection on A Nero Wolfe Mystery. I contributed that content myself, in October 2007. The information I contributed indicates the impact that the A&E TV series had on used book sales for specific Nero Wolfe titles, verifiable through Bookfinder reports that are cited. The paragraph that I have restored, and the subsequent paragraph about Bantam paperbacks and audiobooks that are TV show tie-ins, demonstrate that the A&E series made Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels bestsellers once more after many years. — WFinch (talk) 00:52, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

My recipe for FAC[edit]

The recipe goes like this (to be absolutely safe of getting it by December 1, I'd give it at least 4 months...):

  1. add everything one can think of for comprehensiveness grounds, especially critique/commentary etc.
  2. .ensure all referenced with inline reliable sources
  3. . copyedit (ideally wait until all material added, but often tidying along the way is unavoidable)
  4. . ask 1-2 uninvolve folks to take a squiz.
  5. . GAN
  6. . See in GA reviewer suggested "bonus stuff" to work on before FAC
  7. . FAC and presto, one Featured Article...

Simple really....Casliber (talk · contribs) 09:17, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Thus, first is to outline anything this article may have forgotten....below: Casliber (talk · contribs) 09:17, 3 February 2011 (UTC)


Salsicce a mezzanotte / Sausages at Midnight (Too Many Cooks)

Following a footnote link, I see that the title on the DVD case is "Salsicce Mezzanotte", i.e. "Midnight Sausages", sausages of the type called Midnight, apparently a translation of saucisse minuit invented by a character — not a mezzanotte. —Tamfang (talk) 05:14, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

A Happy Memory[edit]

I once led much of my family, including my Grandma and several aunts, in preparing Oyster Pie Nero Wolfe. It was a resounding success!! Das Baz, aka Erudil 19:27, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Nero's weath[edit]

Was Nero wealthy because he inherited or because his business was that good? -- (talk) 01:20, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

  • The books are deliberately vague on how he initially became wealthy, but they imply strongly that he is a self made man. Apparently, he engaged in some unspecified business endeavors before leaving Montenegro which amassed him enough money to immigrate to the United States and buy the brownstone (for which he apparently payed cash). His subsequent work as a private detective has kept him wealthy. As I said, though, the books are vague on this issue. It's all part of Wolf's "mysterious past" in Montenegro. The assumptions I've posted here are my own, but as far as I know, largely agree with those of Wolfe fans in general. Fish Man (talk) 16:51, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

He was a poor boy, but ambitious[edit]

He made himself rich with his brains. Das Baz, aka Erudil 19:28, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Collections vs. Omnibus volumes[edit]

I've taken another look at the February 25 reorganization of the bibliography section, in which the short story collections were taken out of a chronological section titled "Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout" and moved into the section titled "Nero Wolfe omnibus volumes." That was then retitled "Collections by Rex Stout," and "Books" was changed to "Novels" in the first section.

Maybe it's just me, but mixing the short story collections and the omnibus volumes is confusing. The omnibus volumes are given a section all their own in Townsend's definitive bibliography of Stout's work. Townsend organizes the work into groups titled "Novels," "Short Stories," "Short Story Collections," and "Omnibus Volumes." (I suppose we could get into whether Stout wrote short stories or novellas, but Stout said they were novellas and I'd never care to get into an argument with him.)

Before February 25, when the novels and the short story collections were merged in one section, the work was at least in chronological order. This would be useful to those trying to read the corpus is order. Mixing the short story collections in with the omnibuses — many of which contain the short story collection volumes — well, I don't find that very useful at all. Perhaps the short story collections could be split back out into a separate section — Novella collections — if there isn't consensus to merge them back in with the novels and change the header back to "Books."

In any event, a comparable bibliography exists on the Rex Stout article, and that wasn't reorganized and edited to match this one, and that's really bugging me. — WFinch (talk) 02:50, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it's a problem and a thorny one. And it may be worsened by the more recent re-issues of double volumes by Bantam, which do not have unique names a la other collections such as Triple Zeck, and which repeat the introductions and back matter supplied in the re-issues of the early 1990's.)
I agree that it's confusing at best to conflate the collections of novels with the collections of novellas. The former are re-issues and the latter are not (although the individual novellas had often appeared earlier in magazines).
This is the sort of problem that relational database structures tend to handle nicely, but it's almost impossible to properly represent those relations in a two dimensional medium such as a computer screen.
It seems to me that the bibliography may be intended to serve two audiences whose memberships probably overlap only slightly, and it may be asking too much of a Wikipedia bibliography to serve both. One smaller audience consists of those whose interest lies in the cataloging and accounting for titles by a particular author. They would want all titles represented one way or another. (But I doubt if that audience would regard Wikipedia as proper source documentation.) The larger audience consists of those who WFinch mentions -- those who wish to read the corpus in order, or who would appreciate being warned that a volume that they're about to order contains exclusively duplicated material (such as All Aces).
I don't think I have an answer but I would like to offer this suggestion: Omit as separate listings the collections of works previously published in book form. Instead, cite them in some fashion (such as linked footnotes): "Also collected in Five of a Kind." TurnerHodges (talk) 17:07, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, since the omnibus volumes are no longer in print, I think those titles can go away here. I wouldn't even cite them in this article, since they are already listed in the "Publication history" sections of each individual book article. The individual publication history sections can be updated as new editions like the Bantam 2-in-1s are released. If there's no objection I'll just remove the omnibus volumes from the bibliography — here, and at the Rex Stout article.
Easily the best choice. I've been meaning to attach this note and admit that my notion of linked footnotes was the product of a fevered mind. Shortly thereafter I realized what a mess that approach would have made. TurnerHodges (talk) 23:43, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
Well, linked footnotes would have worked — but so many articles have been created since this bibliography was initially created, with such detail and so many innovations, and I never thought to come back to do any general maintenance. I'm just glad you suggested getting rid of the collections of works previously published in book form — it cut away the dead wood and I'd never have thought to do it. — WFinch (talk) 02:01, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Now, as to whether to put the short story collections back in with the novels and restore the heading to "Books" … The navigation box at the bottom of this article (and all NW-related articles) divides the book titles into novels and short story collections. Having one master book list, "Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout," presented the titles in publication order.
I had an a-ha moment after my first post on this yesterday. Maybe the February 25 editor can confirm this here, but I've realized the reason for splitting out the short story collections from the complete list of books could simply have been to list the contents of each short story collection. The omnibus volume section already described the contents of each book, so maybe that was seen as a way to include that information about the short story collections. Perhaps there's a need to simply list the contents here, as the February 25 editor has done, instead of making people click on the book title and then giving them the information.
So, how about merging the novels and the short story collections again, in order of publication, but including the titles of the novellas. I'd be happy to take that on, and make the Rex Stout article bibliography conform. (By way of p.s. on that, should the novella titles here be in quotation marks or italics?) — WFinch (talk) 18:27, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
>> For comparison and consideration, I've edited the Rex Stout bibliography section to include the novella titles (which are still in quotation marks), where all titles are under the single header, "Books". — WFinch (talk) 20:38, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm happy to see the omnibus volumes out of there. How to handle the novellas and short stories is certainly a vexing issue (the Townsend bibliography is a remarkable and valuable work but the organization is not user-friendly, and IMO only four are novellas as opposed to short stories anyway, no matter what Stout said), so how about a little heresy? Use your current redo on the Rex Stout page, BUT knock off the separate category for the Novellas and instead blue-link them in their book descriptions; it's easy enough for people who are religious about exact chronology to click on the individual titles for their original magazine appearances. I think listing them in a separate section is redundant, confusing, and can mislead people into believing that these titles exist as separate volumes.
The main heading could be something like "Nero Wolfe Books: Novels and Novella/Short Story Collections. For original magazine appearances, see entries for individual titles. Mirawithani (talk) 06:35, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I like the idea of linking the novellas now that they're listed in the full book list, and dispensing with the separate section ("Too Many Details"). I'll put the short stories and novellas in quotation marks as they're listed on the Stout bibliography, too. The discussion can continue here if anyone sees a problem with it when it's done. — WFinch (talk) 14:46, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Missing Chapter 17 in Prisoner's Base (for sure in Bantam 1963 New Edition, and probably in others)[edit]

Random House discovered in 2011 that most of the Bantam paperback editions of Prisoner's Base lack the final chapter (17), which is 1.5 pages in length in the hardcover editions.[1] The Wolfe Pack, the Nero Wolfe literary society, took the liberty of providing the final chapter in PDF format on its website.[2]Lacreighton (talk) 12:33, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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  1. ^ "Prisoner's Base". The Wolfe Pack. Retrieved 2015-06-29. THE MISSING CHAPTER: In 2011 Random House (Viking) discovered that most paperback editions published after the first hardcover printing had omitted CHAPTER 17. 
  2. ^ "Prisoner's Base, Chapter 17" (PDF). The Wolfe Pack. Retrieved 2015-06-29. Here, at long last, is Chapter 17.